Incubation Period

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.

incubation period

[‚iŋ·kyə′bā·shən ‚pir·ē·əd]
The period of time required for the development of symptoms of a disease after infection, or of altered reactivity after exposure to an allergen.
(vertebrate zoology)
The brooding period required to bring an egg to hatching.

Incubation Period


(or incubation), the time interval from the moment of infection to the appearance of the clinical symptoms of a disease.

For each infectious disease, the incubation period has a characteristic length, although the length may vary depending on the number of microbes that entered the body, their pathogenicity, the physical condition of the body itself (previous traumas and illnesses, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency), and the site of entry of the infection. Vaccination, seroprophylaxis, and chemotherapy prolong the incubation period.

Table 1. Length of incubation periods of some infectious diseases
 Length of incubation period (in days)
Most frequent “average”MinimumMaximum
Rabies . . . . . . .40123-6 months (rarely up to 1 year)
Botulism . . . . . .12-24 hours1-2 hours1 (rarely more)
Brucellosis . . . . .14720-30
Typhoid fever . . .143–421
Chicken pox . . . .11–141021
Influenza . . . . . .2a few hours3
Dysentery . . . . .32 hours7
Diphtheria . . . . .527–10
Whooping cough .7–9214–15
Measles . . . . . .8–10717 and 21 (with injection of serum)
Malaria . . . . . . .10–15631 (in tertian malaria, sometimes 7–11 months)
Epidemic parotitis (mumps) . . . . . .11921
Poliomyelitis . . . . .7–14335
Scarlet fever . . .3–6a few hours7–12
Tetanus . . . . . . .7–14140 (sometimes upon removal of splinters, a few years)
Typhus . . . . . . .12–14620
Tularemia . . . . . . .8121
Epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis2–3a few hours7
Foot-and-mouth disease . . . . .426

In some infectious diseases (such as measles and diphtheria) causative agents are discharged into the environment during the incubation period; this leads to the infection of other persons. The length of the incubation period is important in discovering the source of infection and sometimes also for establishing a diagnosis.


References in periodicals archive ?
Even a five-day decrease in the incubation period can hike transmission rate by three times, and with an increase in temperature from 17 to 30 degrees Celsius, dengue transmission increases fourfold, the results showed.
To measure enzyme activity at different incubation period, five different profiles with different reading cycles and different incubation period were set.
For patients with confirmed cases, we estimated the median incubation period to be 5.
A declining trend regarding number of shoots was recorded with increase in colchicine level and incubation period (Table 1).
Section I details the data, while Section II examines the distribution of incubation period performance and its relationship with flows.
Throughout the ensuing risk incubation period of stage two, therefore, it's essential that managers take a disciplined approach that applies both hindsight and foresight techniques to detect possible problems.
The incubation period is 15-40 days, after which nausea, fever and jaundice develop.
Rabies is an important health issue worldwide due to its high mortality and its possibly insidious outline determined by the relatively long incubation period, of three to eight weeks (1) and sometimes longer than one year.
This reduction in cases of influenza antecedent of closing these cities' meat markets signaled researchers that the mean incubation period for the patients was about three days and was consistent with the estimated mean incubation period from individual patient data for poultry exposure.
We suggest that early onset of incubation may be more important in reducing incubation period and predation risk than in maintaining viability of early-laid eggs.